By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
HANOI, VIETNAM(ANS) -- A group of Hmong Christians living in the highlands of Vietnam have filed a complaint about violent incidents that they say took place amongst this tribal group last year.
In a document addressed to the Bureau of Religious Affairs of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and was brought out of Vietnam and handed to the ASSIST News Service, one complainant, whose name I have withheld for security reasons, said, that he represented 21 Hmong households living in the Bat Sat District of Lao Cai Province.
"Under the leadership of the Party and various levels of government, we have had a deep attachment to the homeland for many years," he wrote. "Since the government promulgated freedom of religion and equality among all ethnic groups, we have become Christians and have abandoned the worship of spirits. In our daily lives we have lived in unity and have abided by the policies of and regulations of the Party."
The Hmong Christian then named several men, three of whom were with the Public Security Police, whom he said took part in a vicious attack on him and his family last June.
"These men, along with one other whose name we do not know, came into our house when we were all asleep," said the Christian in his complaint. "They pulled us out of bed without a word of explanation, knocked me to the floor and beat me violently with an truncheon. When my 70-year-old mother saw what was going on and protested, one of them grabbed her by the hand and twisted it so hard that she suffered pain for many days.
"They then handcuffed me with number 8 handcuffs, tied my legs with rope and carried me about 100 meters, put me down and then ordered me to walk by myself. I was unable to do so, so two of them picked me up again and dragged me to the office of the People's Committee in the village. There I was beaten..."
He then stated that he was hit on the forehead and punched in the face and stomach by a man.
"It hurt a lot," he continued. "They beat me on three separate occasions and then said they would beat me to death and seize all my fields and crops. They then said that if I agreed to give up Christianity and reestablish the ancestral altar in my home they said they would let me stay in the village, but if I did not, they would arrest and imprison me.
"After that they held me at the People's Committee office and made me cut crass. I did this work for four days and asked for a day off on Sunday. Then I managed to escape and fled to another village because I was very scared."
Another Hmong Christian also filed a complaint. In it he named the three men that came to his house and arrested him.
"They clamped my hands behind my back with number 8 handcuffs," he said. "They took me to the office of the People's Committee and kept me overnight. At 8:00 AM...(one of the men) came and beat me in the face, telling me that there were Bibles in my house. I was finally released at 11:00 AM and was fined 20 armloads of firewood. I was very afraid and so I fled. Another 23 families ere also so afraid that they fled into the forest, and have not dared to return to their homes."
Five Hmong Christians who also signed the complaint, added, "We write this appeal earnestly asking for the intervention of all levels of authorities and of the Bureau of Religious Affairs of the government. Please come, investigate and see directly for yourselves, in order to help us."
This is just one of several appeals that have been issued by the Hmong believers who live in the highlands of Vietnam.
In another document that was handed to the ASSIST News Service, a Vietnamese Christian said that the number of Evangelical Protestants in Vietnam is now about one million.
"This represents a remarkable six-fold growth in the 25 years since Vietnam was united under communism in 1975," the report said. "Three quarters of the Protestant community belongs to Vietnam's tribal minority groups which have been quite receptive to the Christian gospel. Christianity has grown more rapidly among them, even thought these minority Christians there have been the most restricted and persecuted."
The Hmong people reside predominately in Vietnam's northwest provinces, along the Laos and Chinese boarders. Estimates of the number of Hmong believers range between 120,000 to 500,000 and this makes the Hmong movement the largest Christian movement of its kind in Vietnam's history.